Archive for April, 2016

TFF PressInfo # 372: Drop the Just War theory and abolish nuclear weapons!

By Mairead Maguire

Press Release 19th April, 2016

Nobel Peace Laureate, Mairead Maguire, co-founder of The Peace People and TFF Associate, says from Rome:

“I believe we are at an important and hopeful turning point in human history – from violence to nonviolence and from war to peace”

Laity and religious meeting in Rome appeal to Pope Francis to share with the world an encyclical on nonviolence and just peace and for the church to no longer use or teach ‘Just War theory’

It was a joy for me to join eighty people from around the world meeting in Rome 11-12th April, 2016, to contribute to the important discussion ‘Nonviolence and Just Peace Contributing to the Catholic Understanding of and Commitment to Nonviolence’.

Members of the three day event co-hosted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Catholic Peace Movement Organization, Pax Christi, strongly called on Pope Francis ‘to share with the world an encyclical on nonviolence and Just Peace; and on the Church to ‘no longer use or teach ‘just war theory’; and continue advocating for the abolition of war and nuclear weapons’.

The statement of Appeal to the Pope also said:

‘We believe there is no ‘just war’. Too often the ‘just war theory’ has been used to endorse rather than prevent or limit war. Suggesting that a ‘just war’ is possible also undermines the moral imperative to develop tools and capacities for nonviolent transformation of conflict’.

The gathering in Rome consisted of lay people, theologians, members of religious congregations, priests and bishops from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania and the welcoming address was given by Cardinal Turkson of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who read a Statement from Pope Francis.

The Final Statement Read the rest of this entry »

A nonkilling, nonviolent world is not unrealistic – We can choose!

By Mairead Maguire

Address by Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate and TFF Associate, to Rome Conference on NATO
Friday 29th January, 2016.

Dear Friends,
I believe we, the human family, have no less a task before us, than transforming our thinking and mind-sets of violence and war, and moving to a demilitarized Europe and World. Einstein once said that everything has changed but our thinking. However, there is hope as indeed our thinking is changing and there is a growing consciousness that violence, whether it comes from State or non-state actors, is wrong, violence does not work, violence is not the way.

However, around the world, we, the people, are in danger of being overpowered and dis-spirited by increasing violence, militarism and war. Many people can see that many Political Leaders can no longer imagine a just peace, and under the guise of allegedly ‘just wars’ and unbounded preparation for war, they are leading us into repeated cycles of violence profoundly counter to the spirit of love and friendship residing in the heart of humanity.

But there is Hope and it resides with the People, who are great and are mobilizing and uniting across the Globe to bring about much needed change, and rejecting violence and war.

The World Health Organization has said that ‘Violence is a preventable disease’ and people are not born violent, rather we all live in cultures of violence. This can be changed through nonviolent peacemaking and the pursuit of ‘just peace’ and nurturing of cultures of peace. Using active nonviolence, based on love of enemies and nonkilling, can bring about a real peace that is just, inclusive and sustainable.

In Northern Ireland we faced violence from all sides, for over thirty years, as we lived in a deep ethnic/political conflict. This violence only ended when everyone acknowledged that militarism and para-militarism could not solve our human problems, and only through unconditional, all inclusive dialogue and negotiations could we reach a political agreement based on nonviolence, forgiveness, compromise and co-operation.

We spoke to ‘our enemies’ and made peace with them, because we recognized that without Peace nothing is possible, and with Peace, everything is possible.

We also began to tackle the root causes of our violence, by making painful policy changes.

Today in Belfast, it is good for all its citizens to live in a City at Peace, but we all acknowledge that our Peace process is a work in progress and we continue to work on justice forgiveness and reconciliation.

We meet at a time when, I believe, Europe is facing a cross-roads and hard choices regarding policies and priorities have to be made by all. Today’s refugees, migrant challenge, has shown the best and the worst of European values, via television beamed onto our screens to the world.

The best have been the compassionates response Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo # 371: If Obama visits Hiroshima (Part 2)

By Richard Falk

Part 1

In Prague, Obama significantly noted that “ the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act.” [emphasis added]

In the 1996 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons, the judges unanimously concluded that there was a legal responsibility to seek nuclear disarmament with due diligence. The language of the 14-0 ICJ finding is authoritative: “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all aspects under strict and effective international control.”

In other words, there is a legal as well as a moral responsibility to eliminate nuclear weapons, and this could have made the Prague call for a world without nuclear weapons more relevant to present governmental behavior.

The Prague speech while lauding the NPT never affirmed the existence of a legal responsibility to pursue nuclear disarmament. In this respect an official visit to Hiroshima offers Obama a golden opportunity to reinvigorate his vision of a world without nuclear weapons by bringing it down to earth.

Why is this? Read the rest of this entry »

Review of “The Need for a New Economic System”

Review of John Avery’s book by Dorothy Guyot

A Scientist Presses for Action on Many Fronts: A review of the book

The Need for a New Economic System
By John Scales Avery
Selected Works Volume 1, 291 pages
Irene Publishing
Sparsnäs, Sweden 2015

The Need for a New Economic System by John Scales Avery is an important book for everyone concerned over the future of humanity. The urgent voice of the book stems from Dr. Avery’s seeing the discontinuity between the loving care that people bestow on their children and their failure to reduce the harm to their children from a destructive economic system, climate change, resource depletion, and war.

This book of advocacy demonstrates the need for solutions to problems created under the present economic system. Political-economic analyses of the causes of the problems and of solutions are outside of the scope of the book. Scattered through the book are a few general policy suggestions. At the center is Avery’s assessment sector by sector of the critical problems that must be solved to avert disasters.

The book first demonstrates the impossibility of sustaining growth economies on our finite planet. The central three chapters analyze the damage from climate change and war. Globalization, population growth, and the food crisis are the last problems Avery analyzes.

He builds toward his conclusions by sketching the nineteenth century cooperative movement and Gandhian economics. The concluding chapter revisits the problems to advocate change.

The premise of the book is that when people face up to the extent and nature of world problems, people can act creatively and effectively.

John Avery is thinker and writer. Read the rest of this entry »

John Avery’s CV

John Scales Avery

John Scales Avery received a B.Sc. in theoretical physics from MIT and an M.Sc. from the University of Chicago. He later studied theoretical chemistry at the University of London, and was awarded a Ph.D. there in 1965.

He is now Lektor Emeritus, Associate Professor, at the Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen.

Fellowships, memberships in societies
Since 1990 he has been the Contact Person in Denmark for Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. Member of the Danish Peace Commission of 1998. Technical Advisor, World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe (1988- 1997). Chairman of the Danish Peace Academy, April 2004-.

You’ll find a lot about this eminent scholar at Wikipedia. Avery is also a leading peace researcher and activist – “Since 1990, Avery has been the Contact Person for Denmark the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. In 1995, Avery was part of a group that shared in the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in the 1990s in organizing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs.

In 1998, Avery was elected to the Danish Peace Commission. During the years 1988-97, Avery was the Technical Advisor at the World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe. In 2004, Avery became the Chairman of the Danish Peace Academy.

In his usual humble and plain style John tells the story of his life – his personal life, his scholarly life and his peace life – here.

Dr. Avery seems to have ben writing day and night throughout his life – here is his amazing list of books, chapters and articles on world affairs.

In early 2016, Irene Publishing – run by TFF Associates Jørgen Johansen and Majken Jul Sørensen – published Avery’s Collected Essays as well as The Need For A New Economic System.

John joined TFF as TFF Associate in March 2016.

Remembering the 1916 Rising

By Mairead Maguire
Nobel Peace Laureate, Co-Founder Peace People, Ireland and TFF Associate

When the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, the Irish Military, Government Members, and many Irish people gathered in Dublin, on Easter Sunday 27th March, 2016 to remember the Easter Rising of l9l6, some of his challenging words were addressed to the young generation.

He encouraged them ‘to imagine and to dream‘ and he said ‘we wish them well as they make music and continue to dream’. The Leaders of l9l6 had political hopes and dreams. President Higgins said ‘For the leaders of l9l6, their political hopes and aspirations for what a free Irish Republic might be, were linked to a rich Irish culture which they cherished and promoted.

Within that vision, their ancient Irish language and culture, informed by our history and migration, was central to everything for which they hoped and fought.’

I believe the men of l9l6 had a democratic right to their dreams of Irish self-determination and to work for Irish Freedom, but the violent method by which they fought for freedom was ethically and morally wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

Mairead Corrigan Maguire’s CV

Mairead Corrigan Maguire
Nobel Peace Laureate

Co-founder, Peace People – Northern Ireland l976.

Mairead Corrigan Maguire was awarded the l976 Nobel Peace Prize for her actions to help bring about peace and an end to the violence arising out of the ethnic/political conflict in her native Northern Ireland. She shares the award with Betty Williams.

Mairead was the aunt of the three Maguire children who died as a result of being hit by an Irish Republican Army getaway car after its driver was shot by a British soldier. Mairead responded to the violence facing her family and community by organizing, together with Betty Williams and Ciaran McKeown, massive peace demonstrations appealing for an end to the bloodshed, and a nonviolent solution to the conflict.

Together, the three co-founded the Peace People, a movement committed to building a just and nonviolent society in Northern Ireland. The Peace People organized each week, for six months, peace rallies throughout Ireland and the UK. These were attended by many thousands of people, mostly women, and during this time there was a 70% decrease in the rate of violence.

Since receiving the award, Mairead has dedicated her life to promoting disarmament and peace, both in Northern Ireland and around the world.

Working with community groups throughout Northern Ireland, political and church Leaders, she has sought to promote dialogue and conflict resolution, in order to bring about a nonkilling, nonviolent society and world.

Mairead has visited many countries, amongst others, North/South Korea, Afghanistan, Gaza, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Congo, Iraq, and other countries in violent conflict in order to be in solidarity with all people working for peace, justice and disarmament.

A graduate of Irish School of Ecumenics, Mairead – a pacifist – works with inter-church, inter-faith and secular organizations. And she is a councillor with the International Peace Council and Co-Chair of Nobel Womens’ Initiative.

She is a Patron of the Methodist Theological College, and Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education. She has worked extensively in the Middle East believing that peace is possible and as we are all interconnected as the Human Family, sharing one common Mother Earth, we can all do something for peace and justice for all.

Mairead is author of The Vision of Peace: Faith and Hope in Northern Ireland which is also available in Urdu.

Mairead joined as TFF Associate in March 2016.

Experiencing aesthetically the concept of peace

By Elías Abraham Foscolo

Aesthetics – being shaped by the senses – means art. And vice versa. Beauty is the main factor to recognize as the aesthetical component within an artistic experience. Whichever may be the artistic environment experienced – music, dance, theatre, film, poetry – the concept of the aesthetics is associated to the subjective capacity of experiencing the outside world and the way that impacts inside the person.

Indeed, it is an experimental process aiming to resonate with the beauty of the universe – word beauty here as metaphoric approach of peace; hence a type of beauty which aesthetically aims to be eternal, pure and human. Following this idea, an aesthetic experience of beauty is related to identifying an inner peace and such a process is an authentic artistic desire to be touched by the act of love.

Actually that is what empowers and makes the person aware of who she or he truly is; and in consequence allows the unfolding of his/her own peace and artistic inner potential.

For me the aesthetics of the art is a synonym of the aesthetics of peace.

John Paul Lederach makes explicit this: [How do we practice the aesthetics of peacebuilding? Like art itself, there is no single technique by which it can be pursued and at the same time it cannot be created without discipline].

Lederach connects the aesthetics of peacebuilding with the aesthetics of the arts Read the rest of this entry »

Elías Abraham-Foscolo’s CV

Born July 5, 1986
Nationality Italian-Argentinean

Peace & Conflict Transformation (Masters Program) Masters of Advanced Studies at the World Peace Academy, Universität Basel

Advanced Studies in Human Rights Education & Training (CAS Program) Pädagogischen Hochschule Zentralschweiz. Lucerne, Switzerland

2010-2012 Master of Art performances (In Clarinet, Orchestra and Chamber Music)
Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland

Mentoring and project management NGO PLAYforRIGHTS

Organization series of human rights workshops and cultural activities aiming at creating and intersection between the arts, peacebuilding and human rights.

Conceptualized, trained and mentored youth within the NGO Musica Para Todos Youth forums focusing civil society projects especially in music education as social inclusion in Argentinean slum communities

Working experience in the artistic field (classic music)

Neues Orchester Basel

Theoretical knowledge & practical experience in peacebuilding and conflict transformation

Publications related to art-based approaches in peacebuilding:
2014: Imagine the art of creating what does not exist. Centre of Advanced Studies, University of Basel. 2014

2013: Music and Human Rights Education, in: Journal of Human Rights Education 5/1. 2013. Quoted by the author, Dr. Kirchschläger P. G.

2013: PLAYforRIGHTS, playing for rights without borders. Pädagogischen Hochschule Universiät Zentralschweiz. 2013

2008: The Way music would make A Better World. Universidad Nacional de Cuyo. 2008

2013 – 2015 NGO PLAYforRIGHTS
Assessed and advised on a systematic and sustainable approach to knowledge sharing amongst Swiss organizations and people around the world on Peace-building and Arts.

2008-2013 NGO Musica Para Todos
Conducted Youth Forum and Art Festivals connecting classic music with human rights. Developing local projects with an integrated approach, carried out self assessment of the NGO, represented NGO at National Level, coached trainers of trainers on tools and advocacy materials and participated in development of advancing human rights issues from different art and human rights perspec-tives.

2004 – 2005 Societá Dante Alighieri, Comitatto di Lujan de Cuyo
Conceptualised youth focused projects amongst the civil society in Mendoza. Topics: Culture, literature, Arts. Dealing with youth sector within the organiza-tion.

2006/2007 Full-Course in Video edition and creative visualizations. Exagrama Produc-tions. Mendoza. Argentina
Samples here and here.

08/2004 Received training in Basics of Humanitarian Response Municipalidad de Lujan De Cuyo, Area de Defensa Civil

2003 Awarded a Certificate of Cultural Entrepreneurship
Fundacao: Musica No Museo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Inter-personal skills (active listening, effective communication and presentation competences coaching, facilitating and training expertise, team worker, organizational and planning skills, can work autonomously and multi-task under pres-sure, loyal, cooperative and honest) plus multilingual Spanish (Mother tongue), English (Fluent), Italian (Fluent), Portugueise (Flu-ent), French (In process of learning); others analytical mind, Computer literate, Pro Video Edition Adobe CS6.


(1) Hans Von Sponeck, former UN assistant secretary general and was UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Iraq, Germany.
(2) Jan Oberg, Transnational Foundation for Peace & Future Research, Sweden.
(3) Dr. Peter Kirchschlaeger, Co-Director Centre of Human Rights Education, Switzerland.

Elías Abraham Foscolo joined us as TFF Associate in January 2016.

Elias Abraham-Foscolo
Address: Rebgasse 52 4058 Basel, Switzerland
Phone: +41 76 759 10 69
Skype: eliasabrahamfoscolo

TFF PressInfo # 370: If Obama visits Hiroshima (Part 1)

By Richard Falk

There are mounting hopes that Barack Obama will use the occasion of the Group of 7 meeting in Japan next month to visit Hiroshima, and become the first American president to do so.

It is remarkable that it required a wait of over 60 years until John Kerry became the first high American official to make such a visit, which he termed ‘gut-wrenching,’ while at the same time purposely refraining from offering any kind of apology to the Japanese people for one of the worse acts of state terror against a defenseless population in all of human history.

Let’s hope that Obama goes, and displays more remorse than Kerry who at least deserves some credit for paving the way.

The contrast between the many pilgrimages of homage by Western leaders, including those of Germany, to Auschwitz and other notorious death camps, and the absence of comparable pilgrimages to Hiroshima and Nagasaki underscores the difference between winning and losing a major war. This contrast cannot be properly accounted for by insisting on a hierarchy of evils that the Holocaust dominates.

The United States, in particular, has a more generalized aversion to revisiting its darker hours, although recent events have illuminated some of the shadows cast by the racist legacies of slavery.

The decimation of native Americans has yet to be properly addressed at official levels, and recent reports of soaring suicide rates suggests that the native American narrative continues to unfold tragically.

The New York Times in an unsigned editorial on April 12 urged President Obama to make this symbolic visit to Hiroshima, and in their words “to make it count” by doing more than making a ritual appearance. Recalling accurately that Obama “won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 largely because of his nuclear agenda” the editorial persuasively criticized Obama for failing to follow through on his Prague vision of working toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

A visit to Hiroshima is, in effect, a second chance, perhaps a last chance, to satisfy the expectation created early in his presidency.

When it came to specifics as to what Obama might do the Times offered a typical arms control set of recommendations of what it called “small but doable advances”: canceling the new air-launched, nuclear-armed cruise missile and ensuring greater compliance with the prohibition on nuclear testing by its endorsement coupled with a recommendation that future compliance be monitored by the UN Security Council.

The Times leaves readers with the widely shared false impression that such measures can be considered incremental steps that will lead the world over time to a nuclear-free world. Such a view is unconvincing, and diversionary.

In opposition, I believe these moves serve to stabilize the nuclear status quo have a negative effect on disarmament prospects. By making existing realities somewhat less prone to accidents and irresponsibly provocative weapons innovations, the posture of living with nuclear weapons gains credibility and the arguments for nuclear disarmament are weakened even to the extent of being irrelevant.

I believe that it is a dangerous fallacy to suppose that arms control measures, even if beneficial in themselves, can be thought of as moving the world closer to nuclear disarmament.

Instead, what such measures do, and have been doing for decades, is to reinforce nuclear complacency by making nuclear disarmament either seem unnecessary or utopian, and to some extent even undesirably destabilizing. In other words, contrary to conventional wisdom, moving down the arms control path is a sure way to make certain that disarmament will never occur!

As mentioned, many arms control moves are inherently worthwhile. It is only natural to favor initiatives that cancel the development of provocative weapons systems, disallow weapons testing, and cut costs. Without such measures there would occur a dangerous erosion of the de facto taboo that has prevented (so far) any use of nuclear weaponry since 1945.

At the same time it is vital to understand that the taboo and the arms control regime of managing the nuclear weapons environment does not lead to the realization of disarmament and the vision of a world without nuclear weapons.

Let me put it this way, if arms control is affirmed for its own sake or as the best way to put the world on a path of incremental steps that will lead over time to disarmament, then such an approach is nurturing the false consciousness that has unfortunately prevailed in public discourse ever since the Nonproliferation Treaty came into force in 1970.

The point can be express in more folksy language: we have been acting for decades as if the horse of disarmament is being pulled by the cart of arms control. In fact, it is the horse of disarmament that should be pulling the cart of arms control, which would make arms control measures welcome as place holders while the primary quest for nuclear disarmament was being toward implementation.

There is no reason to delay putting the horse in front of the cart, and Obama’s failure to do so at Prague was the central flaw of his otherwise justly applauded speech.

Where Obama went off the tracks in my view was when he consigned nuclear disarmament to the remote future, and proposed in the interim reliance on the deterrent capability of the nuclear weapons arsenal and this alleged forward momentum of incremental arms control steps.

What is worse, Obama uncritically endorsed the nonproliferation treaty regime, lamenting only that it is being weakened by breakout countries, especially North Korea, and this partly explains why he felt it necessary back in 2009 to consider nuclear disarmament as a practical alternative to a continued reliance on nonproliferation, although posited disarmament more as a goal beyond reach and not as a serious present political option.

He expressed this futuristic outlook in these words: “I am not naïve. This goal will not be reached quickly – perhaps not in my lifetime.” He never clarifies why such a goal is not attainable within the term of his presidency, or at least its explicit pursuit.

In this regard, and with respect to Obama’s legacy, the visit to Hiroshima provides an overdue opportunity to disentangle nuclear disarmament from arms control.

Part 2


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